As an Indian-American (from the sub-continent of Asia), I have grown up in a society where I have experienced both sides of racism and oppression while also experiencing some underlying privilege that isn't always addressed. Indian-Americans are one of the more privileged minorities while looking in comparison to others. Many of our stereotypes are revolved around education, money-making careers, and parental authority. These stereotypes are not as damaging as what some other minorities may face (ie. President Donald Trump collectively calling those who come from Mexico "rapists" and "drug dealers"). That being said, I don't mean to discredit the troubles that many Indians do face, especially after 9/11. My own mother, who used to work at a call center, was once called a terrorist by someone, simply because she has an accent. However, privilege shouldn't ever go unchecked, and that's what I mainly want to talk about.
As a minority, we as a community, seem to have forgotten our long history of being looked down upon because of the color of our skin. From when Europeans colonized India, and to when Indians immigrated to America. We seem to have forgotten our fellow melanin-soaked people who have been kept down because of centuries of racism and malicious stereotypes used to discriminate against them. My sisters and I have come together because of this realization and decided to start our own Instagram page in order to try and gather together a community South-Asians who want to get more involved in activism and create an atmosphere where we speak out about our own struggles within our community, while also being an ally to other communities that we feel have been ignored.
We want our page to be a learning environment for ourselves and others. Here is how following our page can help lead to you getting more involved in Activism:
1. We talk about things that you may not have previously known before.
In honor of Black History Month, we've spoken about how Black Americans influenced and came to the aid South Asian Immigrants. One of the things we spoke about was the Bengali Harlem which spoke about Bangladeshi immigrants who settled in Harlem in the early 20th century and the relationship between them and the Black Americans. There are many more cool parts of history and current events that we talk about! These kinds of posts can help you get involved because the more informed you are, the more you can have an understanding of the world we live in and you can start conversations. Conversations are on of the most underrated, yet vital, forms of activism.
2. We speak about what it means to be privileged and to be oppressed.
Though we will try our hardest to be politically correct on our page, that's not exactly what we want to help you achieve. It's a really hard thing to do, and though it's good in the long run, holding yourself up to that standard can become a hard burden to bear. However, what we do hope to instill in our followers the idea of keeping themselves in check and recognizing what it means to be privileged and oppressed.
3. We share personal experiences, in hopes that you can draw on yours and create a cycle of healing.
In South Asian culture, certain normalities have been in the community for so long that we all have scars from it, yet it's not seen as a problem. One example would be commenting on women's weights. We like to talk about these kinds of things so that if you guys have experienced something like this, you can know that someone is listening, someone can relate, and someone is going to try and make this better. And hopefully, you can take that feeling of comfort and empowerment for yourself and move that along to others. Because when you are an activist, sometimes you can forget about your own scars and what you can do to help others like you.
4. We keep up with relevant pop-culture, which is an easy way to get others involved.
The post above talks about an instance from a new Netflix reality show called "Dating Around". We use one of the star's experiences to speak about a bigger issue known as "culture clash." By using pop-culture for activism, the limits in reaching a wider population decrease. This is because some people may not care or have the patience to learn about current events; however, by using things like TV Shows and movies, it's a lot easier to reach those kinds of people and open their eyes to how important certain subjects are!
5. We post memes!
We are human and so are you! So of course in the middle of all our activism-ing, we're going to give you and ourselves a little breather and have a little chuckle. That's the type of attitude we hope to provide for everyone while we try to make this world a better place. Not everything always has to be dark and damaged; we can laugh sometimes too!
I hope that this can be a start to you becoming a more active member of this melting pot society. It's hard for Indian-Americans to get involved sometimes because of the way we were raised to just focus on ourselves; however, I hope this article and our Instagram page can be a path for you getting more involved with not just the Indian community, but America as a whole. Because together, we can Make America Great!